I guess in my home, Mr. Poitier came in to my consciousness thanks to my parents love for the 1967 film In The Heat of the Night with Sidney and the scene chewing Rod Steiger. My Mother loved to quote the line, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” anytime Sidney might have splashed across our television as she channel surfed. When you’re a little kid, things like that stay with you. I vaguely recall the popularity of the Uptown Saturday Night film playing on local TV channels and somehow coming to realize that Sidney had retired from acting during my formative years of discovering movies.
Blackboard Jungle with Glenn Ford, an actor we all truly loved in our home came in to my hemisphere and the realization that Sidney had been a young actor in the fifties co starring opposite some heavy weights at the time in Hollywood and more than holding his own. Late night TV finally gave me the chance to see him go toe to toe with Tony Curtis in the ground breaking The Defiant Ones which proved to really be just the tip of the iceberg in movies the we can look back at and point to as ground breaking for obvious reasons during the era of their productions.
Finally in 1988 at local theaters came Shoot to Kill and Poitier was back on the big screen. I quickly shelled out my cash at the box office and thoroughly enjoyed Sidney as the FBI agent tracking a killer through mountain terrain with Tom Berenger in tow.
Starting with one from my personal vault is a 1963 original of Mr. Poitier’s Oscar winning role.
I’ve heard Richard Widmark talk about the racially charged character he played opposite Poitier here and how uncomfortable it was. Apparently the two become long time friends appearing in a number of films together. Poitier even directed Widmark years later in the 1982 comedy spy flick, Hanky Panky.
“I ain’t gettin’ mad, Joker. I been mad all my natural life.”
Teaming with another box office star as he cements his own popularity.
The roles keep coming and the billing rises to the top.
I’ve long held on to the belief that 1967 is the one year that history might point to as the one that came closest to rivaling 1939 as the accepted year of Hollywood’s greatest triumphs. How’s this for a trifecta of releases featuring Sidney during this wonderful year at the movies.
Name this movie and I admit to thinking of the Star Trek episode which is one of my favorites from the original series.
Back on the big screen for me and other fans wanting to see how he looks after an 11 year break.
“Everybody else up here acts like they’ve never seen a black man before. Why should the bear be different? ”
Many thanks for this retrospective, Mike. He was truly one of the greats — and, as a human being, still is. We’ve been lucky to live at the same time as him.
Well put. Mr. Poitier is a credit not only to the world of movies but to the human race. A class unto himself.
Great seeing all these in one place. A Patch of Blue is probably my favorite here, but In The Heat Of The Night was always that flick that got me from the first time I saw it as a kid on TV, despite the network censoring.
Heat of Night is one of those titles if I come across I just can’t turn away. Sid and Rod make for a great pairing. I recently found that Lilies poster which inspired this gallery.